‘We Stand at the Grave of Two Warriors’ by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn from Labor Defender. Vol. 3 No. 8. August, 1928.

‘We Stand at the Grave of Two Warriors’ by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn from Labor Defender. Vol. 3 No. 8. August, 1928.

THE year that has passed since the murder of Sacco and Vanzetti has served only to sharpen their memory in our minds. It has placed them in the heroic proportions of the two working class martyrs around whom swirled the storm and stress of struggle for almost a decade. The names of Sacco and Vanzetti during their imprisonment were a battle-cry and a standard. With their death they have become a symbol of the liberation struggle and a permanent, unanswerable accusation against the ruling class whose only reply to the prophets of the new society is the frame-up and legal murder.

Sacco and Vanzetti were burned to death in the electric chair on the eve of great moments in the history of the American working class. The army which joined around their cause was the early promise of the new spirit of militancy and struggle that is reviving in the labor movement of this country. The dark years of passivity in ranks have come to an end and a new period of big and courageous struggles is opening. These struggles are beginning to cut wide rents through the heavy web of quiescence, reaction and betrayal that dominated the movement in the United States for the last few years.

The death of the two Italian rebels of Massachusetts awakened the consciousness of tens of thousands of workers to the realities of class rule and class “justice”. The fatal electric current also burned out of the minds of many workers the delusion that governments are instituted for popular-instead of class-welfare; that courts and judges are the dispensers of justice instead of the dignified tailors who drape the vicious persecution of an oppressed class with legal finery. This necessary knowledge, new and startling to so many workers, is becoming a weapon in their struggle.

The two martyrs bequeathed a gigantic task to the workers of this country. Their conduct up to the very last minute constituted not only a standard of courage and defiance; not only did they show the cowardly bourbons of Massachusetts how revolutionists could die, but their execution was a command to us all to integrate our forces for a bitter-end struggle against the class enemy.

Other heroes have fallen in the battle. There are others yet to come who will be inspired by example to give everything for labor’s cause. There are dozens in the prisons of capitalism today, tens of thousands throughout the world, for whose release we must conduct an unremitting struggle. We want the Mooneys and the Billingses and the Barnetts and those other scores of labor fighters to rejoin us in the front ranks from which they have been snatched.

We are not ashamed to stand at the graves of these warriors with bowed heads, weeping at their loss. But we stand there determined to vindicate them by our redoubled efforts to topple over the system of exploitation, robbery, misery and murder that sent these guiltless ones to a horrible death.

Labor Defender was published monthly from 1926 until 1937 by the International Labor Defense (ILD), a Workers Party of America, and later Communist Party-led, non-partisan defense organization founded by James Cannon and William Haywood while in Moscow, 1925 to support prisoners of the class war, victims of racism and imperialism, and the struggle against fascism. It included, poetry, letters from prisoners, and was heavily illustrated with photos, images, and cartoons. Labor Defender was the central organ of the Scottsboro and Sacco and Vanzetti defense campaigns. Editors included T. J. O’ Flaherty, Max Shactman, Karl Reeve, J. Louis Engdahl, William L. Patterson, Sasha Small, and Sender Garlin.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/labordefender/1928/v03n08-aug-1928-LD-ORIG.pdf

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